Archer Aviation Inc. said it plans to produce about 250 eVTOL aircraft in 2025 and gradually increase production to about 2,000 vehicles annually. The timeline is contingent upon the company’s planned production model, known as Midnight, gaining certification, which Archer says it expects in 2024.
The California start-up, which currently is not geared up for mass manufacturing, has also set a lofty plan to build 500 aircraft in 2026 and 650 in 2027 on its way to full production.
While the company has set a timeline for certification of its aircraft, which is designed for air-taxi service and will carry a pilot and four passengers, the FAA is still developing rules for certifying such aircraft. So Archer’s tentative schedule depends on a number of elements coming together quickly – a rare occurrence in aircraft certification.
The Midnight design uses six tilting rotors that use power from lithium-ion batteries to take off vertically like a helicopter and transition into forward flight. It is expected to have a range of about 52 sm and to cruise at 130 knots. Its ideal mission profile involves flying passengers to destinations within cities that are known for traffic jams.
“We are in the process of developing the infrastructure necessary to manufacture Midnight reliably, at scale, and in a cost effective manner. We continue to expand our portfolio of foundational suppliers that will provide us with critical components for Midnight,” the company said in a statement shared with FLYING.
“We now have more than 50 percent of our suppliers for our bill-of-materials selected, based on cost, with that being made up of global leaders in the design, development and manufacturing of aircraft components. We are excited by the significant progress we’ve made in securing world-class suppliers for Midnight that will support us in meeting our key design and operational specifications that will deliver on our mission and business objectives,” the company added.
Following certification, Archer will compete in a crowded market with the likes of Joby Aviation, which has also said it expects FAA certification in 2024, and Wisk Aero, which has backing from Boeing. Another rival, U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace, earlier this year said it, too, expects its VX4 air taxi to enter service in 2025.
Besides certification, this new air-transport category will have to clear a number of potential hurdles, including development of vertiports, air-traffic systems and other eVTOL infrastructure, and the need for better batteries.